Saturday, May 19, 2007

My 'Road To Athens'

Well, since I have a little bit of time at hand, I decided to take Liverpool on FM 2007 and see how far I can go with that squad. To my surprise, I made it all the way to Athens as well! I didn't have any major signings and stuck with the same players like Crouch and Kuyt throughout and I thought it was quite impressive!

Ah, just a game. But enjoy the screenies!

It all started off from the Group Stages and I was drawn with Ajax, Hamburg and surprise, Bordeaux. It was pretty much a stroll in the park for me as I notched up 5 wins and a loss that meant nothing. Finished top of the group and was surprised to see what team I've got picked against next.


Well, they're pretty much unstoppable actually, never failed to score a goal and the only way to beat them is to actually score more than them....okay, pretty obvious....Well, at least I've got 3 away goals!

Bring on Anfield, and they were eaten alive by a certain Peter Crouch....

In the quarter finals, was pitted against German giants, Bayern Munich and was able to slip through despite conceding 4 goals against them. Podolski was pretty much too hot to handle for Carragher and Agger but I still managed it.

On to the semi finals, met up with another team from Milan and it's Inter. Not so good of a start at the Giuseppe Meazza for the first leg as I trail 1-0 to a plucky late goal from Paddy Vieira.

But hey, they got royally served at Anfield just like Barcelona. I played at a quick tempo, caught them off guard and they missed a decisive penalty that could've changed the face of the game but thankfully, Zlatan 'Most Overrated Striker, Ever' Ibrahimovic missed it while our own Dirk Kuyt puts it away!

A late cameo in the 80th minute for Robbie Fowler was just to finish using up the subs but never did I expect him to actually go on to punish the sorry Milanistas!

And in the European Cup final, guess who's waiting?

None other than the moneybags from Chelsea. Defeated them in the League Cup final previously, confidence was high but this time round, it wasn't as easy as the last time as we cancelled out each other and chances were at premium.

But the best way to win the finals is of course......


He was a late substitute and was brought on to have a go at the tiring legs but he scored an absolute scorcher, the last kick of the game!

Oh well, enough of my 'dreaming' and being 'surreal'. Just have fun reading and looking at the screenshots! Take care and enjoy the FA Cup final guys. :)

Friday, May 18, 2007

Beware Of Small Talks

In some way or the other, trying to hype up a game while putting on pressure to your opponent might not be the best way to deal with an upcoming cup final.

We know the Champions League final is less than a week away and we should be expecting the 'calm before the storm' shortly but now, we're hearing daily from Carlo Ancelotti and Clarence Seedorf about what they think of Liverpool and how sh*t they think we are.

Well well, Rafa, just pin up all these quotes on the dressing room in Athens and it'll save you a lot of words.


"But I am convinced that if we replayed that game [2005] another 20 times, we would win it every time because even in that game, we showed we were far superior to them. This time we won't let it go to penalties. We will win it before.

"But they have their way of playing and that's the risk of the game. It's only the second time I have played against Liverpool but there will be no surprises because Liverpool is playing the same game, with the same players."


"Technically, Liverpool are the worst team of the three English sides who reached the semi-finals,"

Liverpool do not have the DNA of an English side

"You could see from the two legs of our semi-final with them that they play and let you play. I don't think it will be the same with Liverpool."

"Milan are a strong Italian team. there is a strong Italian culture running through the team."

I'm loving it. I'm loving the quotes because they make us sounds so bad and that we have a chance to prove them wrong. I love the way they become so over confident of defeating us and have us easy. I love the way they think that they do not have 'revenge' on their mind but all the words are words of revenge itself.

Now the only thing is to shut up ourselves and prove them f**king wrong on the pitch come Wednesday. I can't wait.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Post Season Team Review: Part One

Well then, the curtains are drawn for the 2006/07 season of the English Premiership and there will be absolutely nothing on the sports channel (bar the FA Cup, Champions League and La Liga) till the end of July.

Like students in a class, there'll always be an assessment for them at the end of the school term and this is the perfect opportunity for us to look back and grade the players for their performance and contributions for the past season.

There will be harsh criticisms but there'll also be heartening encouragement for the men in red. With the Champions League final still beckoning, it might be a little too early but let's just narrow it down to just the league and domestic cup performances and leave the rest to later date as we have the entire summer to talk about it. I'll rather talk about this than speculate as to who will be coming into the team next season and the name of Jose Mourinho's dog!

So for part one, we'll start off from the back, which is the defensive unit of Liverpool. From goalkeeper to fullbacks, not one will slip off from this assessment!


1. Jerzy Dudek

Out of contract this summer, the penalty hero of Istanbul has found himself seated on the bench more often after the signing of Pepe Reina. He has been under the Spaniard's shadow and fizzled out.

Despite appearing on only a couple of occasions, the Pole didn't do much to convince Rafa Benitez and the fans that he deserves only a place on the bench as an emergency backup. He was poor on the few matches he appeared including the 3-1 lost to Arsenal followed by a 6-3 mauling by the same team. You don't have to be incredibly clever to work out how bad it was.

With his contract decidedly not renewed, he'll leave the club on a pretty sour note. But I guess nothing compares to the heroics in the Ataturk stadium. He'll still be remembered as a bit part goalkeeper who's not that good but made hero in the most unlikely circumstance. Well in.

Grade: C-

25. Pepe Reina

Despite a nervy and shaky start to the season when he conceded a freak goal to Bobby Zamora at Anfield followed by a freak show at Goodison where he completely made a fool of himself, he has showed much character since and bounced back pretty well.

Perhaps only famous for his penalty saving instincts, the Spanish goalkeeper proved this season, that he is more that just that.

Let's not get into the Champions League penalty saving heroics but his form in the league is quite magnificent since then. Breaking the record of the most number of clean sheets in a hundred games for Liverpool is a fair achievement for a 23 year old goalkeeper, who is still a freshie for that position. Maybe the brick wall in front of him protected him well but do not doubt his importance to the team's defence. Just look at those games where we played Dudek and Padelli.

He is a good communicator and is one of the examples of modern day goalkeeper where standing on the line isn't the best idea. He is quick, he is fast and decisive. Might have an odd fumble here and a mistake there but with more experience, he'll certainly be the number one for years to come.

Grade: A- (Nominee for TRC's Liverpool Player of the Year)


2. Alvaro Arbeloa

Despite being a new signing, Arbeloa has turned up to be a dependable backup and a decent ball playing defender.

A slump in his form towards the end of the season makes his season ends in a sour note but he had a pretty solid start to his Liverpool career thus far.

His cameo appearances in the Champions League where he kept Messi in his pocket the whole game is an example of what he is capable of. As a fullback, he is good on the ball and has even scored his first goal for the club at the JJB this season. His little one-two with Pennant in the build up to Crouch's first goal against Arsenal is unforgettable and showed that he has more to offer than just defending.

Might not dethrone Finnan at right back but we're sure we have a capable and versatile defender in the squad.

Grade: B-

3. Steve Finnan

We've been banging on about how under-rated he is but truly, a real worker for the team doesn't really need all the limelight.

Since his move from Fulham years ago, he has gone from strength to strength. Perhaps more experienced now since he is officially in the 30s, he is dependable at the back, reliable and focussed. He has made the right back slot his and fended off challenges from Josemi and Kromkamp. Both promptly moved out after failing to displace the Irish.

Defending is also not his only strong point. Time and time again, we saw how he moved intelligently down the right, overlapping and putting in fantastic crosses. His crosses has been very impressive at times and done his part to assist the team in scoring goals.

His form is also tied to the ups and downs of the team. Woeful at the start of the season coincided with Liverpool's poor form, his gradual regain to form also meant Liverpool finally warming the engine.

Grade: A (Nominee for TRC's Liverpool Player Of The Year)

4. Sami Hyypia

The big centre half from Finland have been Liverpool's bargain buy for the last decade when millions of dollars are splashed on the likes of Diouf and Diao.

The uncompromising defender has been the pillar of Liverpool's defence since early 2000 and has honed formidable partnership with the likes of Henchoz, Biscan (HAHAHA JUST KIDDING!) and most recently, Carragher.

But age has caught up with the big man and with the arrival of Dan Agger from Bronby, he has gradually moved out of the squad and became a backup. His experience is still vital and his presence could still be felt but the sad fact of life is his time is almost up. Till when will he still be keeping his jersey is unknown but I still think he has a role at the club.

Appeared only for a handful of times, he was there when called upon and never complained about not being in the first team. A good leader on and off the field and a fantastic servant.

Grade: B

5. Daniel Agger

The very replacement for the man above (Hyypia I mean) is this man hailing from the Scandinavians. Maybe they make good defenders but this one is special.

He costed Liverpool 5.8 million GBP and is peanuts in modern day context but is actually the most expensive defender bought by Liverpool. Compared to the likes of Ferdinand and Ferreira, he is certainly a value for money buy and his rise to fame is a heartening one.

Never an easy task to fill in the boots of Hyypia but he was shoe-horned into the Liverpool defence seamlessly. Forming a new partnership with Carragher at the beginning of the season, it was tough for a 22 year old but he does it like an experienced pro.

Rafa once mentioned about players not listening to him while some act as if they listen but it was 'one ear in, one ear out'. When he speaks of Agger, he said this guy actually listens and does what he is supposed to do. Speaks a lot about the desire and hunger for glory and being a teachable player is the best one could hope for.

Despite having disciplinary problems back in Denmark, he was never in much trouble in England. Known for his tattoos and aggressiveness, he was calm and focussed on his task. The English game is never an easy thing to pick up when strikers like Drogba and Viduka constantly gives you sticks, this man grew in stature and is will be part of the future of Liverpool.

Grade: A- (Nominee for TRC's Liverpool Player Of The Year)

6. John Arne Riise

Never really a capable defender and not so sure whether to place him in the defence or midfield slot. But since he appeared more in defence than midfield, I'll put him in here.

The Thor hammer from Norway with a thunderous left foot, he has been at the club for 6 long years, unknowingly. A great servant and passionate player of the club, he hasn't been at his best this term, by his own standards.

At times, he is defensively culpable and some said he's too slow and sluggish to be a full back, which is true to an extent. Due to his built, he is never going to be a speedy gonzalez but his strength is well, his body strength and his stamina.

His form has never really pick up from the alpha to the omega of the season but done just enough. Still, not good enough and might even be flogged this summer but we all know what he's capable of and let's hope he continue to improve.

Grade: C+

12. Fabio Aurelio

Should be awarded the most unlucky Liverpool player this term. Injuries once again plague his career and made him settle down at England even tougher.

Known to have a wonderful left foot but in a different manner, he was brought into give the team a bit of style, substance and class. But many felt he is too lightweight for the English game and it is clear that he struggled with the rest of the team at the start.

Then again after he recovered from his injury, he showed some glimpse of what he is capable of and in the game against Arsenal, where he put up his best performance in the red jersey, he set up 2 of the 4 goals.

His set piece mastery is a formidable arsenal for Liverpool but sadly, he was injured again and out for the rest of the season. Just didn't do enough to earn the plaudits in his first season here but here's hoping he'll be fit, healthy and improve next season.

Grade: C+

23. Jamie Carragher

We don't talk about Liverpool without talking about Carragher, do we? He's the pillar of strength for the Reds and has been ever present, as usual.

Like Steve Finnan to his right, they're the two lynchpins of the defence and their experience at the top level is one reason why the Liverpool defence has been so stingy for the past 2-3 seasons.

Never known for his scoring prowess, he managed to put one past Fulham back in December for his first ever league goal since 1999. Yea, laugh on!

But his uncompromising and no-nonsense style of defence epitomises Carragher and those are the words closely associated with the centre back. When in doubt, just hoof it and anywhere would do!

But the vice captain, like the rest of the squad, suffered a slump in form earlier this season and the game at Goodison Park was perhaps one of his worst ever performance I've seen in years. He was nervous and even I was surprised when he failed to clear the ball and only to give possession back to the Blueshites.

But he bounced back like he always do and currently holds the most number of European appearances at the club after surpassing the great Ian Callaghan.

Grade: A (Nominee for TRC's Liverpool Player Of The Year)

29. Gabriel Paletta

Perhaps a raw and unrefined version of Carragher, he has been pretty disappointing this season but he will escape the harsh treatment from me because this is his first season and he IS only 20.

The Argentinian arrives to just be an apprentice and a backup to the trio of Carragher, Agger and Hyypia. Maybe too much expectations heaped on the lean shoulders of him, he was harshly criticised and maybe, to a certain extend, they are right.

At the moment, he is just not good enough to take over from Carragher, YET.

We are sure of this because of the performance in the League Cup and FA Cup exits while the last few league appearances for the club in those games where nothing much matters, he dallied on the ball far too often and doesn't look very comfortable.

But he still has time on his side and with good teachers and coaches, I hope he'll turn out good and really go on to be the next Roberto Ayala.

Grade: C-

Alright, that's the end of part one and if you haven't work out, I'll be holding a poll on the club's best player this term shortly after I conclude on this series. Comments are welcomed and grades are there to be challenged.

Lap Of Honour Video

Finally found a decent one and what other ways to end the season than putting up the lap of honour video.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Road To Athens

Came across this video and thought it has to be one of the best fan made videos out there. It was inspiring yet spine-chilling.


Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Benitez Fires Back At Valdano

We're aware of Jorge Valdano's outburst and criticism of Jose Mourinho and Rafa Benitez. If you haven't read, it's HERE

Today, Benitez fired the missiles back at Valdano. It was aimed that him and him alone as there was no mention of Real Madrid whatsoever. Class.

“The people at this club who are working to obtain the targets we are achieving deserve respect, a deep respect,” said Benitez.

“I believe that he has shown a lack of respect to the club and the fans and the sacred stage of Anfield. Speaking of “sh*t hanging from a stick” and other unfair comparisons show he has absolutely no knowledge of the historical reality of this organisation in world football.

“I have known Jorge Valdano for more than 20 years since my time at Real Madrid and I do not have the best professional concept of him.

“I believe that he has much to thank to people like Ramon Martinez, Cappa or Giráldez, to mention only some examples, of trainers or sporting directors he’s worked like.

“These are people who have made a bigger contribution.

“It infuriates to me that a person who has the privilege of being able to express himself in the media does not do so with honour and education and does not show, I repeat, the minimum respect to an institution like Liverpool, with it’s success and history.”

Boom boom.

Drogballs' Weekend Roundup

Grand Finale Didn't Disappoint

How many of us neutrals actually think that Sheffield United will be the one joining Charlton and Watford in the Championship next season?

I can tell you it's not a lot, considering the Blades had the upperhand and with their fate lying in their own hands. They were up against fellow strugglers, Wigan, who were in an absolutely horrendous form prior to the game and looked very likely to falter at Bremall Lane.

Considering it was Sheffield United's home ground, it was definitely no easy task for Paul Jewell's men and they were marked as the underdogs for this game. Wigan's survival is also closely link to the simultaneous match going on at Old Trafford, where West Ham did everything they could for survival, to dampen United's joyous mood after winning their first Premiership title since 2003.

But before the battle on the pitch had even started, the war off the pitch has already heated up. The 'Gang of Four', Charlton, Sheffield Utd, Fulham and Wigan were all involved in a law suit against West Ham and they were contesting the Premier League committee, who only fined West Ham 5.5million GBP due to the problematic signings of Tevez and Mascherano.

The quartet felt it was unfair and wanted West Ham to be docked off points just like AFC Wimbledon did few seasons ago after fielding 6 loanees on the pitch at the same time. They felt that the sentence should be more severe rather than just monetary compensation.

When all the world seemed to be against you, that is when the true character shows and West Ham put up a magnificent showing at Old Trafford to not only put a little sour note to a supposed celebratory occasion for United but also ensured their own safety.

Ironically, the man who got them to do a 'Harry Houdini' is none other than Carlos Tevez, the one who got them into trouble, well not his fault anyway. Since he scored his first goal for West Ham in the 4-3 defeat to Spurs back in early March, he was on top of his form and managed to dragged West Ham through.

Although Sir Alex fielded a weaken side, one should never question the integrity of the Red Nose as is probably saving the tired legs from the FA Cup Final this Saturday.

And that's probably why some of us are glad to see the back of Neil Warnock and his Blades. He have been banging on about clubs playing their weakened side and giving the relegation strugglers a foothold. And that constant whinging and moaning has got on the nerves of many neutrals.

Although, to me, I was very surprised to see Sheffield United going down because although they have been languishing in the bottom half of the table for majority of the season, they have been able to make their home a very difficult place for teams to go to and they are relatively stable compared to the likes of Wigan and West Ham.

But their away form have been abysmal and that probably is the stumbling block for their season. Losing key striker, Rob Hulse, is also another major turning point for them and their struggle to get goals means they'll always have less chances of winning.

Wigan went on a 10 games winless streak and were a totally different side from the one we saw last season. Their season hasn't been good by any means and they've probably became the team 'nobody gives a damn about' this season.

Yet when it all mattered, they turned up. Sheffield United sank. And that was how it all went wrong for the Blades. It was a bitter and cruel twist of fate as time wore on, Wigan's fortune began to change while West Ham showed true character and resilience despite ManYoo's futile attempt to dash their hopes of survival.

Paul Scharner puts Wigan ahead but Jon Stead equalised for Sheffield United. The turn of the tide came when Sheffield Utd captain, Phil Jagielka, handled the ball in the box and it was up to the former Blades player to put the final nail in Sheffield United's coffin. He slammed home the penalty and soon, it became a one way traffic game where the home side piled pressure and waves upon waves of attack at Wigan's goal.

But as we all know, football is never predictable. The final showdown of the relegation battle sums it all up really. The beauty of it, of course if you're a Blades fan. How things turn 360 degrees in your favour in a matter of seconds.

Well done Wigan and especially, West Ham. They put up their best when they were called to and although they merely survived by the skin of their teeth, both the teams know that it is extremely vital to stay in the Premiership.

This season has been yet another tremendous one considering the champion is not Chelsea this time round.

The relegation battle that boils down to the last day of the season is exhilarating and has been a fantastic showing for neutrals.

Although not as epic as the one 2 seasons ago, it still has been top notch while the the battle on top were a little different.

Basically, ManYoo steamrolled through almost all the teams while Chelsea playing catching up till the point they ran out of gas. They are considered the 'Big Two'. Then Arsenal and Liverpool fought for the 3rd and 4th place till the last day of the season as well but it doesn't really matter, isn't it? They are called 'The Other Two'.

Whatever it is, it has been a wonderful season and although I was disappointed to see us not challenging the title once again, it is still enough to excite and kept us at the edge of our seats. Bring on next season! Faster!

Managerial Musical Chair Begins

It is a norm that after the end of the season, there will be managerial casualties and also, jumping ships.

Big Sam Allardyce was the first as he quit Bolton two games before the end and is now appointed as the new Newcastle Utd. manager.

He is known for bringing out the best from the players and I've got a good feeling he'll succeed and excel at St. James' Park. Of course, lots of work needs to be done still as the club is fast becoming more like a medical centre than anything else.

Injuries aside, the dressing room hasn't been united through Glenn Roeder's last days as Oba Martins is reportedly missing while Charles N'Zogbia walked out after finding himself on the bench.

Money will be available for Fat Sam, finally, after years of limited budget at the Reebok Stadium. With Freddy Shepherd being the contributor, he'll now be able to bring in quality players without having to scour through the free transfer market for past-it players.

Paul Jewell, too, left his position at Wigan. It was only 48 hours after the miraculous survival and it is believed that the last few months has heaped so much pressure on Jewell that he can't take it further. A break is needed.

Man City, meanwhile, sacked Stuart Pearce after a dismal season in the league. With only 4 points off the relegation spot, Man City struggled throughout and despite spending big on Giorgious Samaras, Bernado Corradi and DaMarcus Beasley, they were short of fire power up front and broke an all time record of only 10 league goals at home this season. Shocking.

It might not end here as the board begins to assess the managers while the likes of Chris Coleman and Paul Jewell still about, the musical chair might not end just yet.

The New Born 'Savior'

ENGLAND footballer Jamie Carragher sent two carjackers packing when he dashed to the aid of a terrified woman driver.

The thugs fled when the burly Liverpool defender raced from his home after hearing the 59-year-old teacher's screams.

Her cries woke Jamie, 29, at 6.30am near parkland where she had been walking her dog in Blundellsands, Merseyside.

And, with wife Nicola and two children asleep, he jumped out of bed.

When they saw him the two robbers fled in a stolen car.

A friend said: "He found the woman in a terrible state. He calmed her down until the police arrived."

The victim was blocked by a Vauxhall Corsa when she returned to her Renault Clio.

One man tried to grab her keys as the other threatened her and dragged her from her car.

The day 'God' left, the new savior has risen! Hail Carragher!

Monday, May 14, 2007

Pictures From The 'Family Day'

First of all, none other than Fowler and his little girls. Pity there isn't a lad to take over his mantle!

Robbie almost in tears...

Farewell Du the Dudek, we forgive you for your countless of blunders after that match winning performance at Istanbul. Good luck!

Don't you find Kuyt's baby cute? Aww! Oh, and Carra's little girl looked really evil!

The Day 'God' Left Anfield

Tribute To The 'Toxteth Terror'

They say all good things come to an end and that's a fact that many of us have to face.

And yesterday, the Anfield faith cheered, sang and clapped off Robbie Fowler for one last time before his impending departure from the club he loves with all his heart. Although he wasn't the score sheet yesterday to give his followers something more to cheer about, his legacy will live on and he will still be the 'God' of Anfield in everyone's heart.

Hailed from a notorious council estate of Toxteth, in Liverpool, he was a frail looking boy that no many will look upon as a future Liverpool legend in the making back then. But he was blessed with such raw talents that is a scarcity in the modern game.

What he didn't have, the built and the speed, are compensated by his natural talents, his instincts and his predatory skills that made the Kopites watch in awe for years to come. His ability to be at the right place at the right time was essentially his best asset and blessed with a cultured left foot and a useful right.

Grown in stature not literally, but in the hearts of men, the player that has captivated almost 2 generations of Liverpool fans had a rather roller-coaster like career. Unlike many football stars, he was never the darling of the media and has been constantly linked with rumours that tarnished his reputations and all those years of 'Spice Boys' culture in Liverpool back in the late 90s certainly didn't help.

He was then ousted by Gerard Houllier and sold to Leeds United in 2001. In his autobiography, he was adamant that the French manager wasn't in favour of him and have been trying to flog him all the while despite constantly delivering the goods.

He left, without a proper sending off from the Anfield crowd. He wept as he departs the club that he loves and the club that loves him. He was substituted at half time, down the tunnel and that was the last time his followers saw him.

Winding the time forward to 2007 and this time round, he was given a proper and grand sending off one last time before pursuing his career elsewhere after manager, Rafa Benitez, decides it's about time the striker moves on.

It was set up like a testimonial match for the beloved son of Anfield, even decorated with the captain's armband for the day and for once, Gerrard stepped out of the limelight.

It all happened, of course, with Benitez's smart dealing back in the winter of 2006. He pulled of perhaps, some called it a 'masterstroke' by signing Fowler back after he was stranded out in the football oblivion. Rafa reached his hand out for the second coming of Fowler and saved him from potentially fizzling out at Man City.

Knowing that it is his last ever appearance at Anfield in the red shirt, Fowler didn't give up although his limbs suggested otherwise. Injury plagued his career and at 32, he was a shadow of his former self yet it didn't detract his cult like followers from singing his name.

It was a farewell party for Fowler but the penalty incident sums up all about Fowler's illustrious career. Seconds after being taken off, Liverpool were awarded a penalty to level the game up. He was supposed to take the spot kick but even God can't do anything about it.

It was a career of missed chances, bad timings and bad luck. At the age of 18, he broke into the Liverpool squad, playing alongside the likes of John Barnes and Ian Rush. He scored an amazing 5 goals in his full debut for Liverpool and also broke the record of the fastest ever hat trick in Premiership history.

Yet the timing of his rise to fame coincided with those of Alan Shearer, Teddy Sherringham and Andy Cole. Adding to that, he didn't get on the good books of the media and is constantly targeted and his reputation went up the smokes.

His infamous goal line sniffing act is still one of the most controversial moments in perhaps, football's history and that certainly didn't help Fowler to build a healthy reputation. He was often mistaken as someone who was into drugs and party all night long.

But whatever happened has happened and we are proud to send him off with our best wishes after that farce back in 2001 when we didn't even get to see him off. It might have disappointed a few as to how he didn't manage to score against Charlton yesterday but his legacy will live on and he has already done enough to capture the people's hearts.

His name will always be encapsulated in the hearts of the supporters and best of wishes, Robbie. You'll never walk alone.

The Picture That Sums Up Everything About Fowler

Pity he didn't score on perhaps his last ever appearance for Liverpool. All the best Robbie, still the cheeky git!